Low serotonin levels can lead to issues such as depression, sleep deprivation, digestive difficulties and more. Serotonin is an important chemical in the body responsible for regulating your mood and digestion, among other important things. If you want to boost your serotonin levels, there are natural ways to do this. Diet and lifestyle have a major impact on serotonin levels and switching up your health regimen can make a lasting impact. Check out how to boost serotonin levels naturally and why it’s so important.
What is Serotonin?
Serotonin is a naturally occurring chemical that’s responsible for regulating mood, digestion, sleep and more. It acts as a neurotransmitter, carrying signals between nerve cells (called neurons) throughout the body. In the brain, serotonin helps with mood regulation and memory, and it also contributes to healthy digestion in the gut. In other parts of the body it helps with sleep, sexual function, bone health and blood clotting.
10 Signs of Low Serotonin
1. Mental health symptoms such as mood instability, depression, anxiety
2. Memory issues and poor cognitive function
3. Sleep changes, specially having problems falling or staying asleep
4. Decreases in sexual function and/or desire
5. Trouble with attention, motivation and learning
6. Hyperactivity, excess energy and difficulty sitting still
7. Digestive difficulties
8. Carbohydrate cravings and binge eating
9. Eating disorders
10. Blood clotting difficulties
6 Causes of Low Serotonin
Serotonin deficiency isn’t fully understood and in many cases there is no clear cause, however these are some things that can contribute to low serotonin levels:
1. Poor diet
2. Chronic stress
3. Lack of natural light
4. Inadequate exercise
5. Age-related health and brain changes
6. Artificial sweeteners, alcohol and caffeine
5 Risks of Low Serotonin
1. Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders
2. Sleep disruptions such as insomnia
3. Gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
5. Irritability and aggression
12 Ways to Boost Serotonin Naturally
Regular exercise (especially aerobic exercise) will help boost your serotonin levels. On top of that, regular physical activity can help manage mood disorders such as depression by boosting cardiovascular health, improving strength and endurance and helping you maintain a healthy weight.
2. Boost Natural Sunlight
If you don’t get enough exposure to natural sunlight, this can lead to low serotonin. This is often the case for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), where some people experience depression during the darker, shorter days of fall and winter. Try to spend at least 10 to 15 minutes outside in the sun each day. This will also boost your vitamin D levels, which is needed for serotonin production.
3. Reduce Stress
Reduce stress as much as you can, as chronic stress can lead to low serotonin levels. Do things such as reducing your caffeine intake, practicing yoga and meditation, making time for leisurely activities, taking breaks from work, exercising and trying massage therapy.
4. Eat High Fibre Foods
A high-fibre diet rich in fruits and vegetables will help keep your gut bacteria healthy. Having “good” bacteria in your intestines has been linked to adequate serotonin levels, as the intestines make up 95% of your body’s supply of serotonin.
5. Eat Foods High in Tryptophan
Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s important for the production of serotonin in the body. It’s commonly found in foods that contain protein, such as salmon, poultry, eggs, spinach, seeds, nuts, milk products and soy products. Eating these foods will naturally boost your serotonin.
6. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Focusing on good sleep habits can help in a number of ways. The more well rested you are, the less likely you are to feel overly stressed. When you sleep well your body is able to produce serotonin and keep the stress hormone cortisol low.
7. Increase Your Probiotics
Getting more probiotics in your body can increase the amount of tryptophan in your blood, helping more of it reach your brain. Increase your consumption of probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut. You can also take probiotic supplements.
8. Add a Vitamin D Supplement To Your Regimen
Although vitamin D from natural sunlight is the best, sometimes it can be challenging to get the right amount. Vitamin D supplements promote serotonin production and can also make a significant difference to your health and wellness.
9. Try Therapy
Talking to a therapist can sometimes be the best medicine. A good therapist will help you cope with stress, anxiety and depression and can help transform your mood. He or she can help you understand why you’re feeling certain ways and in turn teach you how to deal with those feelings.
10. Turmeric To The Rescue
Turmeric is an Indian spice that contains curcumin, which is known for its antioxidant properties and health benefits. It has been found to increase the overall serotonin levels in your brain and decrease depression. You can use turmeric in recipes ranging from tea to eggs, pancakes, curry, soup, chicken and fish dishes, veggie pies and so much more!
11. Limit Caffeine, Alcohol and Sugar
These three substances temporarily increase your energy, but then cause sudden drops in your serotonin levels in the brain once the effect wears off. They can induce symptoms such as anxiety, restlessness, nervousness, insomnia and depression. Limit them as much as possible.
12. Consume Smart Carbs
Smart carbohydrates stimulate the release of insulin, which helps more tryptophan enter the brain, where it makes more serotonin. A low calorie, high protein meal that contains complex carbohydrates will make you feel more alert and better all around. Complex carbohydrates include foods such as oats, whole grains, barley, buckwheat, yams, sweet potatoes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and greens.
Try boosting your serotonin levels with these diet and lifestyle tips! They’re sure to make a difference and have you feeling better in no time.
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